From 'assist king' to nobody: The highs and lows of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil
FOOTBALL By Mirror | October 25th 2020
Mesut Ozil's eight seasons at Arsenal have been a roller-coaster ride full of highs and lows, with the 32-year-old recently left out of the Gunners' Europa League and Premier League squads by manager Mikel Arteta.
When he first made the move to the Emirates back in 2013 from Real Madrid, the capture was viewed as something of a coup for Arsenal.
A number of Ozil's former Real team-mates, including Cristiano Ronaldo, were not happy that he was allowed to leave.
Now, as Arsenal's longest-serving and highest-paid player, Ozil should be at the peak of his powers but the reality could not be more different, with the club moving forward under Arteta with the World Cup winner on the sidelines waiting for his contract to come to an end.
Ozil's Arsenal career could not have got off to a better start, with the playmaker notching his first assist just 11 minutes into his Premier League debut against Sunderland.
He set up Olivier Giroud with a typically accurate pass as Arsenal cruised to a 3-1 win.
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Ending trophy drought
In his debut season, Ozil helped the Gunners end their nine-year trophy drought, starting the 3-2 FA Cup Final win over Hull in 2014.
It was the first trophy Arsenal had lifted since they last won the FA Cup back in 2005 and Ozil has since lifted two more FA Cups with the club.
Perhaps Ozil's most memorable individual moment in an Arsenal shirt is his stunning goal against Ludogorets in a 2016 Champions League game, where he latched onto a ball over the top, chipped it over the goalkeeper, left two defenders lying on the floor and swept it into an empty net.
Ozil later named it his favourite ever goal, telling Goal : "I'm proud of quite a few of my goals but that one against Ludogorets was like on PES! Passing three or four opponents and then scoring. When I watch it, I think it was the best goal of my career."
Ozil is well-known for his assists and he has contributed a total off 77 for Arsenal in 254 appearances in all competitions.
He was the fastest player to 50 Premier League assists but that has since been taken by Manchester City star Kevin de Bruyne.
He does still hold the record for the most consecutive Premier League games with an assist, having set up goals in seven games in a row back in 2015.
After a five-year spell which saw him contribute 37 goals and 71 assists in 196 appearances, Ozil put pen to paper on a bumper new three-year deal which made him the club's highest ever paid player on £350,000-a-week.
Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was a big reason as to why Ozil joined the club in the first place and when the Frenchman left in 2018 it was a big blow to Ozil.
Under Unai Emery, interim coach Freddie Ljungberg and now Arteta, Ozil's importance has diminished and, whether that is down to the coaches or the player himself, it is clear that Wenger leaving the club has had a detrimental impact on Ozil.
The 2018-19 season was Ozil's first under a new coach, with Emery taking over from Wenger and his goal involvements majorly dropped off.
He chipped in with six goals but provided just three assists in 35 games and, with rumours of a rift with Emery swirling, it was Ozil's worst return to date and his lowest number of appearances in a season.
Throughout his career, Ozil has been dogged by criticism because of his style of football and attitude on the pitch, with a number of Gunners legends taking aim at his work rate.
Paul Merson has called Ozil "one of the worst players in the world without the ball", Martin Keown has said he "needs to have a good look at himself" and Emmanuel Petit has claimed he has a "defeatist attitude."
Ozil began last season missing the opening few games after he and team-mate Sead Kolasinac were the victims of an attempted robbery.
The thieves attempted to take the pairs designer watches but Kolasinac fought them off and those responsible have since been given prison sentences.
Ozil's recent omission from Arsenal's Europa League and Premier League squads look to have signalled the end of his time at the Emirates.
His contract is due to expire at the end of the season and, even though he has said he intends to "continue fighting for [his] chance", it seems unlikely he will ever represent the Gunners again.
Reflecting on his decision to leave Ozil out, Arteta said: "My job is to get the best out of every player to contribute to the team performance. At the moment I feel that I have failed because I want the best possible Mesut for the team."
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